There once existed a cartoon-style Celtics T-shirt that had the title, "Kentucky Connection" plastered across the top. There had to have been a handful of young, naïve fools in and around the Boston area who bought the cheap piece of cotton (not naming any names). With former University of Kentucky head coach Rick Pitino having surfaced in Boston as the Celtics' new Messiah and the franchise having drafted former UK guard Ron Mercer at No. 6 overall in 1997 and former UK forward Antoine Walker in 1996 - the Hub had indeed become Lexington North. But Pitino flamed out, Mercer never lived up to expectations and Walker was traded away in Danny Ainge's first significant move as the team's boss. In sum, there was an obvious disconnect when it came to the "Connection."
Nearly 20 years after the first "Kentucky Connection," there are two former UK stars whose names are continuously brought up in trade rumors regarding the Celtics. If the C’s could somehow get their hands on Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins and Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel, then they’d surely be in business in the East next season. Yeah, a rotation that featured three prominent big men in Cousins, Noel and Al Horford would be overkill for a team that was decidedly small last year – but it would make them a legit threat to the Cavaliers nonetheless.
Truth is, a new “Kentucky Connection” isn’t coming to Boston anytime soon (unless James Young suddenly turns into a left-handed Jimmy Butler). In fact, it would be a surprise to see Cousins or Noel in green at any point next season. Here’s some potential trade updates regarding both players.
As we predicted, there has been a swell of “see, he’s not all that bad of a guy” support for Boogie after he was mostly on his best behavior in Rio and is now an Olympic gold medalist. Cousins was decent for Team USA in the tournament as he averaged 9.1 points per game and pulled down 5.8 boards per game while starting five of the eight games played.
An idea of the Boogie slurp-fest that took place in Rio (via the Sacramento Bee):
“I think what a lot of people don’t know about DeMarcus is he’s a great teammate,” said Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “He’s a very important part of our team and a guy we really count on inside.”
“Boogie is a fiery, passionate and good guy,” said DeAndre Jordan.
I mean, of course they’re going to say those things. Athlete-speak aside, the Kings know that Cousins’ standing around the league just went up a peg or two. The lone reason he’s been mentioned in so many trade rumors over the years is because of his real or imagined attitude issues.
Cousins is 26 now and it seems, on the surface, that he’s starting to get “it.” If that’s truly the case then there’s no way the Kings are trading him in the foreseeable future. Even if that’s not the case, the Kings will at least see if new head coach Dave Joerger can speed up Cousins’ maturing process.
The Tweet heard round the world (or at least the Tweet heard ’round every social media conscious Celtics fan) occurred on Aug. 10 when Noel banged out, “I’m blessed to be from Boston. Love my city.”
Of course, everyone jumped to conclusions and thought this meant that the Noel to Boston talks were back on. In actuality, Noel was probably just visiting his hometown and wanted people to know how much he missed it. People have hometowns, and they often get nostalgic for them, you know.
The Sixers need to trade one of their big men, but there should be no rush for Sixers boss Bryan Colangelo to do so. The Sixers aren’t winning the title in 2017, and in a league where there’s such a discrepancy between true title teams and “the rest,” Philly should just let the situation play out.
“We’re not going to make a bad deal just to make a deal,” Colangelo told Sirius Radio. “I think we can be a better basketball team if we can distribute that talent better. Maybe take one of those assets and address other needs on the roster. I think right now it’s best to say we like all of them. We want to see if we can make the most out of each of them. At the end of the day, the reality says one has to go at some point but only when the deal is right.”
In other words, if the Celtics do go after Noel – expect it to happen when trade season really starts to crank up again around the holidays.